How to Get Blood Out of Clothes

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Don’t let a little accident ruin your favorite outfit. Here's how to get fresh or dried blood stains out of your jeans, tees, and other clothing.

Sooner or later, it happens to everyone. You trip and skin your knee or suffer some other unfortunate incident and end up with a nasty blood stain on your clothes. It’s especially frustrating if you’re looking spiffy in your favorite outfit or wearing an item that you just bought. Don’t fret, though! It’s easier to get blood out of clothes than you think. Whether you need to know how to get blood out of jeans, white clothing, or delicate items, there are some simple steps you can take to get those fabrics looking brand-new again. Of course, blood can get on a variety of things, not just your clothes. You’ll also want to bookmark this info on how to remove blood stains from everything—from your carpet to your sheets. Alright, let’s learn how to remove stains!

Blood Clothes

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What you’ll need

  • A clean sponge or cloth

  • Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide

  • Stain remover or pre-treater

  • Laundry detergent

  • Color-safe bleach

  • Ammonia

How to get blood stains out of clothes

The best way to get blood out of clothes is to deal with it quickly. The faster you act, the better your chances of success—it’s much harder to remove a dried blood stain than a fresh one. With that in mind, follow these steps as soon as possible:

  1. Rinse the affected area in the sink or dab it with a wet sponge or cloth to remove as much of the blood as possible.

  1. If the spot is fresh, you may be able to remove the blood stain naturally, without resorting to chemicals or commercial detergents. For example, the acids in white vinegar can break down blood stains. A product like hydrogen peroxide can also be a lifesaver. Hydrogen peroxide is actually a mild bleach, and it’s generally safe to use on clothing, but for peace of mind, place a small dot on a hidden part of your garment to make sure no discoloration occurs. The steps for either product are the same. Simply cover the stain with white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and then blot it with a clean sponge or cloth. It’s definitely one of the best hydrogen peroxide uses to take advantage of!

  1. If the stain is still visible, cover it with a stain remover or laundry pre-treater. If you have a stain remover that breaks down enzymes, this will work best because it’s designed to break down proteins in stains like pet urine, grass, and blood. Allow it to sit as long as instructed by the packaging.

  2. Wash the garment as usual in the washing machine, adding in a little bit of color-safe bleach. Be sure to use cold water. Washing in hot or warm water can set in any remaining stain. If the clothing in question is white, color-safe bleach isn’t necessary. A small amount of regular bleach, used as directed on the packaging, will do the trick as long as you don’t mix it with colored clothes.

  3. If the stain is still visible, repeat. Do not throw the clothing in the dryer until the stain is removed, or it will bake in and set the stain. Here are more laundry mistakes you probably didn’t realize you were making.

One important note: Be sure to read the tags on your clothing. If your clothes are made from a delicate fabric like silk or cashmere, perform a spot test before using any kind of stain remover. And never throw anything in the washing machine if it’s labeled “dry clean only.” When in doubt, take delicate garments to your local dry cleaner.

How to get dried blood out of clothes

In a perfect world, all blood stains would be taken care of while they’re fresh. However, if the world was perfect, we probably wouldn’t have blood stains on our clothes to begin with. Luckily, you can still get dried blood out of clothes; it just takes a bit more time and effort. You’ll need the same basic products as above, minus the hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. With dried blood, you’ll want to bring in the heavy hitters from the beginning.

  1. Use a wet sponge or cloth to remove any caked or dried blood.

  1. Fill your sink with cold, clean water, and add a teaspoon of stain remover or laundry detergent. A stain remover that breaks down enzymes will deliver the best results.

  1. Let the garment soak in this solution for four hours.

  1. Shake the water from the fabric. If the stain is still visible, apply more stain remover or laundry detergent to its surface. Scrub it to loosen the stain.

  1. Place the clothing in the washing machine and wash as normal in cold water.

  1. If the stain hasn’t been removed, repeat the steps above, adding a teaspoon of ammonia to the solution in step 2. Do not place the garment in the dryer while the stain is still visible or you’ll risk setting it in. Here are more things that should never end up in your dryer.

A blood stain isn’t the only thing that will ruin your look. Next, find out how to get rid of sweat stains on even the whitest whites.

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Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane